Snakestyle & Tove Aradala – Nordic Patterns

Somewhere along the lines, Nordic culture got a major overhaul, becoming shorthand for sleek minimalism and clinical modernism. Nordic Patterns, a collaboration between electronic musician Matthew Leigh Embleton’s Snakestyle alias and Tove Aradala seeks to redress that, delving deep into the essential fabric of Norse tradition with all its attendant mystique and rich, unique mythology.

Tove Aradala, or Tove Aradala Barbrosdotter Buhe-Stam to give her full name, is well-placed to comment on this. A High Priestess of the Temple Of The Eternal Goddess, a reconstituted religion which taps into the essential polytheism of Norse culture, a belief system which celebrated multiple spirits, gods and creatures. Using sections of Eddas (holy texts), songs and pieces written in the spirit of the region’s folkloric essence, Nordic Patterns affixes Aradala’s gentle singing and resonant chanting to an intricate, entrancing electronic backdrop crafted by Embleton. The album began with a series of field recordings on the Swedish island of Gotland in August 2019 before Embleton returned to London to complete the tracks.

Pieces like ‘Gnisvärd’ exemplify the approach. Here Aradala took traditional folk song rewrote it as the coda to a sparse backdrop of ebbing and flowing electronic sequences wrapped in hazy, frosty textures. Echoing sampled vocals wend their way through the piece, like voices lifted from an old Edison Cylinder, creating a subtle tension between the present and the past. Embleton reveals himself as a sensitive collaborator to Aradala, bathing her ethereal, yet commanding, voice in shimmering reverb and framing her vocal with structures built with a naturalistic fragility. On ‘Klangstenen’, that backdrop is fashioned from liquified, jazzy tones and beats reduced to a primal essence of clicks and pulses; on ‘Trullhalsar’ it is a landscape of dubby bass and wavering, tentative melodies.

The key piece here is ‘Hoburgsgubben’, a nine minute unlikely ambient pop song that flows with meditative purpose. Deeply poignant synth melodies, a shrouded, unobtrusive beat and a general air of serenity envelop joyous lyrics written by Aradala that beautifully celebrate midwinter, and all its frosty promise.

Nordic Patterns by Snakestyle & Tove Aradala was released March 27 2020 by Alex Tronic Records

Words: Mat Smith

Further. : Quarterly Report Q1 2019 & Playlist

Further. launched in January 2019. Its objective was to create a place where I could review things that caught my attention but which didn’t ‘fit’ Documentary Evidence, or where I didn’t get to cover that particular release for Electronic Sound.

During the first quarter of the year I reviewed 15 albums or singles, published one interview, and included a guest review written by Erasure’s Vince Clarke. It was a modest start to the blog, a testing of the water if you will. I will try harder during the second quarter.

Below is the full list of content published during the first quarter. There’s also an accompanying Spotify playlist including tracks from each record (where available on that platform), along with ‘Gallery’ by Californian electronic pop artist Dresage which completely passed me by at the time.

Reviews

Kaada – ZombieLars (Soundtrack) (Mirakel Recordings)
Kamaal Williams – New Heights / Snitches Brew (Black Focus Records)
The Silver Field – Rooms (O Genesis)
TOTM – Bliss / Blurred (Flickering Lights)
Karolina Rose – Invicta (Violet Sunset Records)
Neu Gestalt – Controlled Substances (Alex Tronic Records)
Lucy Mason – Flashback Romance (self-released)
Hugh Marsh – Violinvocations (Western Vinyl)
Bayonne – Drastic Measures (City Slang)
Modular Project – 1981 (hfn music)
Evelyn Glennie/ Roly Porter – One Day Band 17 (Trestle Records)
Maja S. K. Ratkje – Sult (Rune Grammofon)
d’Voxx- Télégraphe (DiN) – reviewed by Vince Clarke
Kilchhofer / Anklin – Moto Perpetuo (Marionette)
Jonteknik – Electricity (The People’s Electric)

Interview
The Silver Field

Playlist
Spotify

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

Neu Gestalt – Controlled Substances

Neu Gestalt is the alias of Edinburgh-based electronic musician Les Scott, whose fourth album Controlled Substances was created using a deliberately pared-back set of tools: a violin, a guitar, a modular system for processing source material, Akai samplers and an Atari computer from the late 80s to bring it all together.

The result is twelve tracks of extreme fragility, each and every sound within them processed and sculpted into their final form, and only occasionally betraying their original sources. On the standout ‘Kintsugi’, echoing temple percussion and glitchy rhythms provide a basis for heavily processed guitar patterns and frozen half-melodies, while on opening track ‘Machines Of Grace’ plaintive violins emerge as crackly, embrittled textures over a bass-heavy electronic dub rhythm slowed down to a glacial pace.

Scott is a fan of the way that timestretched samples have an inherently degraded quality, and you can hear that play out across the material here, providing an evocative fabric through which more clarified sounds are permitted to wend their way. The effect, on tracks like the mesmerising ‘A Glow From The Wreckage’ or ‘Drowned Worlds’, is like trying, and ultimately failing, to precisely alight upon memories from the gauzy mists of your past.

Controlled Substances will be released by Alex Tronic Records on February 8 2019.

Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2019 Further.